TitleTectonic shortening and gravitational spreading in the Gulf of Cadiz accretionary wedge: Observations from multi-beam bathymetry and seismic profiling
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsGutscher M-A, Dominguez S, Westbrook GK, Gente P, Babonneau N, Mulder T, Gonthier E, Bartolomé R, Luis J, Rosas F, Terrinha P
JournalMarine and Petroleum Geology
Date Publishedmay
KeywordsAccretionary wedge, Decollement, Gravitational spreading, Iberia, Morocco
AbstractThe Gulf of Cadiz lies astride the complex plate boundary between Africa and Eurasia west of the Betic-Rif mountain belt. We report on the results of recent bathymetric swathmapping and multi-channel seismic surveys carried out here. The seafloor is marked by contrasting morphological provinces, spanning the SW Iberian and NW Moroccan continental margins, abyssal plains and an elongate, arcuate, accretionary wedge. A wide variety of tectonic and gravitational processes appear to have shaped these structures. Active compressional deformation of the wedge is suggested by folding and thrusting of the frontal sedimentary layers as well as basal duplexing in deeper internal units. There is evidence for simultaneous gravitational spreading occurring upslope. The very shallow mean surface and basal slopes of the accretionary wedge (1° each) indicate a very weak decollement layer, geometrically similar to the Mediterranean Ridge accretionary complex. Locally steep slopes (up to 10°) indicate strongly focused, active deformation and potential gravitational instabilities. The unusual surface morphology of the upper accretionary wedge includes "raft-tectonics" type fissures and abundant sub-circular depressions. Dissolution and/or diapiric processes are proposed to be involved in the formation of these depressions. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.